By on July 10, 2017

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July of 2013. Somewhere between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, with the scorching summer sun beating down upon the bleached blacktop. Colin Firth’s perfectly accented voice reading the conclusion of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

My white 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 carried me towards San Bernardino from Albuquerque on my journey to Cayucos, where I was headed to visit my great uncle through the nothingness of the desert and the interminable heat. It can drive a person crazy, particularly when you’re alone. While I don’t mind being alone, sometimes it’s not best to stew in your own thoughts for that long of a stretch. Instead, I listened to audio books on my iPhone, connected to the Bose stereo system via an auxiliary cable. The Tahoe had Bluetooth capability for phone but not for media. I didn’t mind.

My Tahoe has witnessed, and at times been party to, the ends of many an affair. The beginnings, as well — changing relationships, changing jobs, moving homes. The big white truck carried me both willingly and reluctantly from one place to the next, safely and successfully weathering storms both meteorological and emotional. It carried my amazing daughter, my German shepherd, Stella, and my most personal belongings on the journey from Albuquerque to Columbus. From time to time, it has also carried my preferred demons. It made sure I arrived to countless physical therapy appointments and home from several surgeries. In the 114,524 miles we were together, it betrayed me only once.

(Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost SFE, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

It’s been a year. On this very day one year ago, I took delivery of an oval-badged, ovoid-shaped, three-cylinder hatchback.

My 1.0-liter Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta, with its five manually-operated forward gears and turbocharged torque has provided 12 months and over 10,000 miles of mostly trouble-free driving. Two oil changes and no need for other maintenance have kept operating costs low. And its 17-inch Maxxim Winner wheels, provided by Discount Tire, and Michelin Premier A/S tires have classed up the joint much more than I could from the factory.

I don’t regret my decision to plunk down my own hard-earned cash on Ford’s most diminutive vehicle (in terms of overall size and engine displacement) sold in North America, but it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, either.

(Read More…)

By on October 7, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS Long-Term Test, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Surprise! It’s a Ford hatchback!

As many of you correctly guessed yesterday, the new long-term tester (and this one’s gonna be loooooooong) is a 2016 Focus RS in Nitrous Blue. And, man, is this thing glorious.

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2016

2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

After scoring a stellar deal on our ’15 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost, thanks to the advice of those who know more about the car buying process than I do, my girlfriend and I have put just over 3,000 miles on our diminutive hatchback.

In those 3,000 miles, the Fiesta has patiently allowed Jenn to hone her manual-transmission skills, been to the dealer once (more on that in a bit), carted us and our furry dependents around the province, and not once been close to an autocross course — though not due to my lack of trying.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2016

2016 Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Montero, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

My 2016 Subaru WRX crossed over the 15,000 mile mark after only nine months of ownership. While some of its new car smell has worn off, my affection for it only continues to grow.

The WRX has received scheduled maintenance and begun a journey into competitive driving to bring out its full character. I also gave in to the urge to modify the WRX with some small tweaks.

(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

2014 Honda Accord V6 Coupe 6MT, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

Just slightly over twenty-nine months since taking delivery of my 2014 Accord V6 Coupe 6MT and I’m already out of warranty. That’s not strictly true; there’s still powertrain coverage until the 50,000-mile mark. Certain items, like seatbelts and airbags and catalytic converters, will be replaced on Honda’s time for the rest of this decade, if not longer. But that 3/36,000 bumper-to-bumper honeymoon period of being able to take the car to the dealer for noises and clunks and little broken parts? As my future third wife, Este, would say — those days are gone.

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX

365 days ago, we drove away from the Honda dealer in a brand-new 2015 Honda Odyssey EX.

While minivan ownership was never an aspiration of mine, neither was I ever of the mindset that minivan ownership made it obvious that I was a parent. I figure the first boy we brought home from the IWK Health Centre had already made that apparent enough; my wife’s womb swollen with another boy serves as further evidence.

Children, a 70-pound Boxer/Ibizan Hound mix, periodic child care responsibilities, an ever-present InStep bike trailer, frequent grandparent visits, and a home renovation that’s not quite two-thirds complete don’t mandate minivan ownership.

But minivan ownership sure does make life easier.

One year into this four-year Honda Odyssey experiment, there are no regrets. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2016

Ronnie's crashed Honda Fit, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

It’s been a stressful few weeks, but when I remember my children and grandchildren are healthy, everything else is gravy.

TTAC’s long-term test of the 2015 Honda Fit EX came to a sudden halt at 7,987 miles just after I began a left turn through three lanes of stopped traffic south of a red light on Groesbeck, a major road in Macomb County on the east side of Detroit.

I was going to a music store, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was, which landed me traveling in the wrong direction on Groesbeck. To effect a U-turn, I pulled into the left turn lane of the seven-lane highway to turn into some business frontage. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX

8,000 trouble-free miles ended in early April when our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX began squeaking, squawking, and groaning.

An intermittent rattle in the glovebox this was not. The noise was growing worse by the day. Sounding like a flexing structure when turning into an uneven parking lot entry, like a handful of golf balls bouncing around together when traversing a rougher section of road at very low speed, and like a dying crow in nearly every other circumstance, our Odyssey went from refined to cacophonous in a matter of days.

All blame was laid at the feet of our minivan’s power sliding doors, large apparatuses responsible for shuttering two vast orifices in the sides of a 17-foot-long pod that lacks the inherent structural rigidity of a traditional three-box saloon car. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2016

2015 Volkswagen GTI, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

The automotive media slobbered over the redesigned 2015 Volkswagen GTI sporty hatchback ever since its introduction two years ago. I put 13,500 miles on mine over the past year and I agree that it is one of the great all-around fun cars available today.

I just went through the process of selling it, and that is when the real fun began.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2016

2015 Honda Fit EX 6MT Front 3/4, Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

My first thought was that a constant velocity joint on the left axle exploded again. However, Mike the mechanic (not to be confused with Mike and the Mechanics) told me there was “a hole in the transmission” in the ’02 Saturn that’s been my daily driver the past few years. I spent a few days asking myself whether it made any sense putting $1,000 into a 15 year old car that’s gone on pretty much unchanged since it was first designed in the early ’90s. My second thought: What’s the next thing that’s going to break?

I started looking around for a small, inexpensive, new car, with a focus on subcompacts. I also asked my colleagues who review a lot more cars than I do for their recommendations and settled on two finalists, the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX

With 6,402 miles under its belt, it’s safe to say our 2015 Honda Odyssey is in its prime; fresh enough to feel new, broken in enough to make the most of its 3.5-liter V6, yet not beaten into submission by too many toddler snacks or dog hairs. We now have our Odyssey right where we want it.

Alas, this too shall pass. The floor trays aren’t quickly removed, so the winter’s salt and grime, mixed in with some of Prince Edward Island’s red dirt, is accumulating swiftly. Hairs from the dog, who’s always kept behind the second row, are somehow attracting one another along the sills of the two front doors. We’re rapidly approaching the Odyssey’s first service, a free one at Centennial Honda during our next visit to the in-laws in PEI.

With a dirty, hairy interior and the first service complete, it’s official: our long-term Odyssey is no longer new. (Read More…)

By on January 22, 2016

WRXMountain

You may remember my decision three months ago to replace my aging Cadillac STS with a brand-new 2016 Subaru WRX. The “avoid highways” option has been selected on Google Maps ever since, as evidenced by the WRX’s above-average odometer reading. It’s not my fault that the Subie commands a twistier route every time I start it up.

However, this relationship between the WRX and me has not been without its quirks. After making a few payments and driving 5,000 miles, I’ve emerged from the honeymoon period to take a step back and evaluate this new marriage. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the annoying.

(Read More…)

By on December 30, 2015

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As my personal GTI is powered by gasoline, you might think this will be the first Volkswagen story you have read in the past three months that doesn’t mention Dieselgate.

You’d be wrong. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2015

Bark's Fiesta at autocross

Ever since I wrote this post about autocross back in November, there’s been something that has really bothered me about the way a lot of people responded to it. People seemed to have read the headline, reacted immediately, and then actively and somewhat irresponsibly made my post into something it wasn’t – I never said autocross was easy, or that it wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun, or that I was any good at it. I never said autocross was a bad idea, or a waste of time, or even that wheel-to-wheel racing was better. I just said it wasn’t racing – a statement, by the way, that the SCCA agrees with (they prefer to call it a “driving skill contest”).

(Read More…)

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